Ikea is planning to close one of its six London stores with the potential loss of 450 jobs as the furniture retailer shifts towards online and high street locations.
The Swedish retailer is to close the store in Tottenham, north London, later this year, 17 years after its opening caused a riot with a 1,000 cars reported to have queued up on opening day and six shoppers taken to hospital amid the chaos.
News of the planned closure comes just weeks after Ikea opened a new kind of high street outlet in Hammersmith, west London, in February and ahead of the opening of a warehouse in Dartford, Kent, that will enable home deliveries within 24 hours across the capital.
It is also preparing to open a store in Topshop’s former flagship on Oxford Circus in central London in autumn 2023 as part of £1bn investment in the capital over the next three years.
Ikea said it was adapting to “changing shopping behaviours” with over half its sales now made online.
The retailer has previously closed only one large store in the UK – in Coventry in 2020. It has also tested, and closed, smaller high street outlets, including on Tottenham Court Road in central London.
The latest closure is another sign of difficulties for shops on high streets, retail parks and shopping centres, which led to nearly 8,000 more outlets left empty last year, according to the analysts Local Data Company.
The pandemic has accelerated the switch to home shopping amid worries about the transmission of Covid and a series of government-enforced lockdowns on physical stores to control the spread of the virus.
Ikea said the switch to online shopping and the redevelopment of the area where the Tottenham store is located had prompted it “to assess the long-term viability of the site”.
The company said it was entering collective consultation with the 450 workers affected by its plan to close the store and aimed to retain as many people as possible, with 600 vacancies elsewhere in London.
Peter Jelkeby, the retail manager for Ikea’s UK and Irish business, said: “Taking care of our co-workers is our highest priority and we will lead with respect and compassion throughout the process. The decision to propose closing the Tottenham store has not been taken lightly but we believe it is the right thing to do for our customers and business as we strengthen our position for the future.”